Apologies to both Shakespeare and to Steinbeck, both of whom had used those words, in PG-13 form and with much greater literary impact.
In case you hadn’t noticed, this winter has been long, brutally cold, and snowy. I’ve hated just about every minute of it and that’s not typical for me. Ordinarily, I find beauty and elegance in the winter landscape and have frequently photographed it. Not this time.
Take this morning, for example. When Tammy and I got up, she to get ready for work, me to put the coffee on, it was officially -6 degrees outside. The average daily high temperature for the final day of February (Leap Years notwithstanding) is 37 degrees. It’s been a particularly ugly winter for the last two months. I’m over it.
Still, winter does possess a stark and forbidding beauty that’s undeniable. Low sun and dark blue shadows create mood and texture that you can only find on the shortest of days.
Caillebotte‘s “Rooftops” sets a somber tone that, I suspect, mirrors the mood of the unseen inhabitants beneath those snow-covered roofs in rooms that I imagine were far colder and draftier than the one I sit in now.
Brighter and more cheerful winter images of the winter landscape dominate the work of Walter Launt Palmer (1854-1932), a painter who came from, and eventually resettled in, Upstate New York and found in the winter landscape his most frequent muse. Most of his winter paintings showed us a calm and beautiful land in elegant slumber, waiting for the warmth of spring to awaken it. A little like us, I suppose, or me anyway, as I bide my time thinking of longer, warmer days ahead.
But even Palmer, unabashed lover of the winter landscape, couldn’t help but show us the more difficult side of the season, one of those nights when you find yourself out against your will, immersed in the elements, wishing you could be home in front of your fireplace, curled up with a cup of tea and a good book. His Albany in the Snow takes me out into the storm so vividly that I can almost feel the bone-chilling wind.
The day will soon come when Spring will show herself and the annual rebirth will begin. I will not mourn the passing of the winter of 2013-14, but I may secretly look forward to the next winter and hope that it’s more to my liking. I find myself in need of a rebirth of my own, having created nothing of consequence in more than two years. Somethings as simple, as routine, as a break in the weather will be what I need. I will make it true.